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Political satire doesn't age well, but occasionally a diatribe contains enough art and universal mirth to survive long after its timeliness has passed. Candide is such a book. Penned by that Renaissance man of the Enlightenment, Voltaire, this novel is steeped in the political and philosophical controversies of the 1750s. But for the general reader, the novel's driving principle is clear enough: the idea (endemic in Voltaire's day) that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and apparent folly, misery and strife are actually harbingers of a greater good we cannot perceive, is hogwash.

Telling the tale of the good-natured but star-crossed Candide (think Mr. Magoo armed with deadly force), as he travels the world struggling to be reunited with his love, Lady Cunegund, the novel smashes such ill-conceived optimism to splinters. Candide's tutor, Dr. Pangloss, is steadfast in his philosophical good cheer, in the face of more and more fantastic misfortune; Candide's other companions always supply good sense in the nick of time. Still, as he demolishes optimism, Voltaire pays tribute to human resilience, and in doing so gives the book a pleasant indomitability common to farce. Says one character, a princess turned one-buttocked hag by unkind Fate: "I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our most melancholy propensities; for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away, to loathe one's very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snake that devours us until it has eaten our hearts away?"


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Recent Forum Posts on Candide

Candide Vs. Nausea

I have to do a comparitive essay on Candide and Nausea and i was wondering if anyone had any ideas on what thesis to use. Also, if anyone has any good secondary sources that would help in analyzing the books it would be much appreciated.

What is the difference between Candide and Cacambo?

Hello there. Can someone help me find the difference between Candide and Cacambo? I know the difference between the 2 is quite flashy, but I have to do it in any essay type of around 400-600 words. I have no idea about how to start my work. I need a good introduction as well. Please shed some light on this matter. Your help will help me a lot for my final exams.


Hi So wonderful. I started a thread. wow. I'm reading CANDIDE these days; so I thought why not starting a thread since many people voted for it for May reading. Many people recommended and praised this work. I'm looking forward to sharing insights and readings with you people.

Please help with meaning behind this...

Hi everyone, I have had a lot of trouble trying to work out the many meanings and interpretations of Candide. I am hoping someone out there can help with this... My boyfriend broke up with me last October. We had contact,but it got a little emotional on my side, beign friends is too hard (he also lives in another country) Anyway, he maile dme Candide, no note inside, nothing, jsut the book. I have spent MONTHS trying to work out WHY he sent it. To summarise, he ended it saying he wasnt ready to be in a serious relationship, (he is 9 years younger than me) but hopes one day we will be together. So, does him sending me the book mean: 1. the end line was "We must cultivate our own garden" : Is he saying that we must all find our own happiness,no-one else can provide it for us? (that is how i interpret the last lines) OR 2. Is it the representation that he is Candide, and i am Cunegonde, and after he goes out into the world, he will return to me,as Candide did? I am so confused! I have read and re-read it, there are so many themes within it, but maybe i am missing something? Is there an obvious theme within it that i am not seeing? I thankyou in advance for any ideas or interpetations you may have, I am dying here trying to work it out! THANKYOU :)

Voltair a member of the league

I have read many of the posted threads on Voltair's Candide, It is peculiar to notice that none of them closes the lens on the main issue regarding voltair's work, it even so happened that names like " Shakespeare" and "Dostoevsky " were mentioned in the way, Of course names like these " do not apply" at all, it would be more suitable if we put the comparison to the Russian "Gogol" or the Dutch "Spinoza" or the British " Wilde" (as I remember he wrote one good story and named it " The house of judgment"). What Voltair wrote were meant to be a global, "he even tried to be universal at times", and not intended to be a story or a tale or even a doctrine, it is only a metaphor of an idea, by that it belongs to the absolute treasures of the weak and humiliated humanity, the one which really exists and which Voltair saw it as so. The human being is a local creature who thinks that he is the center of this existence and that he is created according to the divine, and that God watches him from heaven and that every thing is created to serve his glory......etc. All of these small Haman's thoughts which a few men were able to discern them as mere fallacies and to see that humanity is the reverse to that, that is human is small and is controlled by small funny effects like hatred and the urge to be acknowledged and the desire to be unique...etc. For Voltair in particular, he thought of it as a man sitting naked over the toilet bowl while peaking up with his head thinking he will reach to the heavens!! Funny enough idea, but this is simply what controlled Voltair's view, I would also refer to his novel named "MicroMegas", As for this last one, some other devoted brains worked on the infinity and the relativity of objects and effects, I mean the idea, among them were "Leibniz" and "Spinoza", about the triviality of Time, also wrote " Nikos Kazantzakis" on a better literary level, you may also find some flickers of that in some of Mopassin's short stories, The stratum to which Voltair belongs cannot include people like Dostoevsky or Shakespeare, it is a stratum of writers who paint not who mumble! like wise you cannot compare the "Moody Blues" to "Procol Harum", may be to " Tull" or " Jon&Vangelis" or even "Floyd" with reservations, and since painting uses a higher level medium which is light( as a form of variation in time-space) which is made of the same substance as human thinking, hence we must realize only writers with the same stature of writing to include them when we mention Voltair's "MicroMegas" or "Candide", these were very few, Spinoza, Hesse, Leibniz, Gogol, Kazantzakis, Wilde, Some of the writings of these were even deeper or higher than Voltair's, though very few .

Very interesting

Though I do not absolutely love the book but it is a must-read for classic literature lovers (although it is not for all tastes) and it is certainly a unique and interesting read. I was amazed with the book's explicitness and boldness (at all levels: violence as well as sexual as well as political as well as ethnic)....Voltaire has managed to offend everyone :).....from prudes to Christians to Muslims to Europeans....and imagine all of this almost 250 years ago. How did he got away with it.....? Anyways I was also able to read the lesser known second part of this book. And I suggest all of you Candide lovers to find that part II and read it as it further fleshes the poor Candide's philosophy and there are some really astonishing character developments (which I will not tell and you people should find for yourself). Only quibble: this second part is a bit less funny/ironic and consequently less interesting.


Honestly, I came upon this work on a lark. A friend had read it, and asked me what I thought of Candide. I had to admit I'd never read it, and seeing as I had some extra time on my hands, went to search for a copy online. I was quite surprised by what I read, finding it not boring or tiresome at all. I alternatively laughed and then pondered. While the parody did make it funny, I also liked the pointed philosophical comments made throughout the work. It was definitely a good read, and is something I will probably read again.

don't criticise what you don't understand

Had to post a comment in response to some of the others.

Candide is not remotely intended to be a "story" that you read for its plot. It is a series of deliberately exaggerated attacks on optimism, personified in Candide's teacher Pangloss.

I would say you get the most out of it if you avoid trying to view it as "highbrow". It's not. It's very silly. For us Brits, it is very much more pantomime than Shakespearean. No idea of a US equivalent for panto, but perhaps this is why it seems less popular over the pond.

While i was a student at Cambridge Uni, ran across many English students who also didn't like this book, as I think it offended their pretentions of grandeur as it is very easy to read and understand. It was interesting to notice, however, that the genuinely intelligent ones who got 1st class degrees and went on to do PhDs (including the only one with a publishing contract 2 years later) loved this book. (and no I'm not smugly implying that I'm one of them - have a very poor degree in Civil Engineering)

For those of you looking for similar cynicism, but in a more realistic and possibly intellectual setting, I thoroughly recommend reading "The Idiot" by Dostoevsky. About a bloke who only tells the truth and behaves honestly, and how he is perceived, therefore "Idiot".

I love Candide

I consider this book as one of the most touching and philosophical of all, I was touched with most of the events of the book.

Jaime Enrique Gutiérrez


Francois Marie Arouet, pen name Voltaire, is a great poet. playwright and critic. In his novel, Candide, he attacks bigotry and narrowmindedness. I consider Candide a contreversial satire where Voltarire describes the exploits of a naive and an unsophisticated young man whose blissful optimism is duanted by a series of terrible and "hilarious" experiences. Intially, the youthful Candide approaches life with great optimism taught to him by his tutor Pangloss. The novel has a cynical and ironic tone. I believe that Volataire's sarcacism is due to his dissatisfaction of the world he is living in. He condemns religious fanaticism and believes that the world is not the "best of all worlds" as Pangloss believs.

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